Because I'm the Mom

How mothering pervades all relationships in life.

Dating Over 40: Post-Divorce Midlife Dating - How Bad Is It?

Marriage, kids, career, divorce: We've had 'It All' ... What's next?

We've had it all: careers, marriage, kids, divorce. Now what? Are you ready to dive into dating over 40? How bad can it be, right?

Post-divorce, dating over 40. Does the idea give you a stomach ache; inspire panic, fear, self-and-other-loathing and dread?

Why? I'm here to tell you it should inspire the opposite: joy, optimism, relief, curiosity, the tingly youthful enthusiasm of possibilities.

Don't roll your eyes, ladies. It's all in how we look at it. Our midlife-dating -power-glass is either half empty or half full. Today I will argue on behalf of half full.

If you're a woman of a certain age, with kids, post-divorce, with all the wisdom, self-knowledge, confidence and experience granted by midlife, you're in the dating catbird seat. You don't have to do anything. It's all up to you.

Why?

The fear of youth

Because you've got nothing to lose! It's all up to you. You're the decider. The stakes are so much lower than when we were in our 20s, juggling careers and the relentless anxiety of the have-it-all culture we were promised. We were hunters - aiming for the career, the guy, the condo, the essential pieces of that elusive Real Life.

Well, we scored. We made it to The Show. We got the career, the husband, the house, the dog, the kids the All in Having It All. And however it shook out is however it shook out.

Now we've got older kids who turned out far better than we could have ever hoped; a cool job we finally feel challenges us and is worth our time; a fab circle of righteous and hilarious midlife BFFs we don't have nearly enough time to see.

Women and the blessings of aging

We've finally made peace with all the enemies of our younger selves - our parents, our exes, our bodies, our limitations, our life choices, all the stuff we thought we could control but couldn't, our mortality, our unique strengths and magic, our maternal and womanly wisdom we no longer ignore but allow to guide us.

The power of dating over 40

We are finally, finally, our best selves, desperate for nothing and no one, open yet wise, generous and compassionate yet sharpened and clarified by life's betrayals. We have confidence in our choices and our needs.

When you think about it this way, when you look at the whole picture of who we are, where we've been, what we want, who we've become, how can we not feel like the possibility of dating should be fascinating, interesting, full of tingly possibilities!?

We can say no thank you. We can say, 'I'll give it a whirl.' We can throw caution to the wind. We can throw a bad date to the wind. We don't' have to say yes to anything or anyone we don't want to say yes to.

Midlife dating liberation

We can do whatever we want now because we have been liberated by the desperation, the fantasies, the obligations of our younger selves and the things they mistakenly thought they needed! We have made peace with the destructive parts of ourselves that made choices from a place of fear, not strength. We know what and who is good for us and what and who is not. We have paid the price for our lousy choices and are crystal clear about what we've learned from our mistakes.

So, as my mother always says, about everything: "What could be bad?"

As I start to think about dipping my toe into the post-divorce dating over 40 pool, I do so with a renewed sense of my own beauty, wisdom, humor, perspective, power and choice. Call me crazy....what could be bad?

Pamela Cytrynbaum teaches at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.

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